Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

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michaelc
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Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by michaelc » 13 Apr 2012, 21:15

Unfortunately I know very little about pianos, so any advice would be very welcome. I am looking to buy a new piano for our sons, aged 9 and 11 (grades 5 and 7 respectively, and looking set to continue) to replace our little Spencer. We visited our local dealer today and tried various pianos, including the Kawai K3, K5 and K6, which the boys liked, though they enjoyed playing most of the pianos there. The K6 sounded best to me but is a stretch for us to afford and may be difficult to get into the basement of a narrow terraced house. The dealer said that the K5 might not be big enough for the boys if they grow very tall (we're planning to keep this piano for a few years). Which upright pianos (not necessarily Kawai) would you recommend for improving players?

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by Colin Nicholson » 14 Apr 2012, 11:10

All the Kawai range are very good. Not sure though the taller you are, the bigger piano you need! - all pianos now have 88 keys and roughly the same keyboard height - they only differ in the height of the piano in relation to the bass string length. The taller the piano, the better sound quality. Certainly even a K2 or K3 would see anyone through to grade 8 even.

Depending on how tall you are, you simply adjust the stool.

Also have a look at Yamaha, U3 and U1 range - possibly Samick, Reid Sohn.... but it depends on your pocket.

Also make sure the basement is damp-proofed? .... never keep a piano in an 'untreated' basement - it wont last 5 mins in there.
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michaelc
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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by michaelc » 14 Apr 2012, 11:26

Colin, thank you for your helpful advice. The issue with the K5 was that the keyboard was lower, so if the boys ended up with longer legs the dealer thought they wouldn't be comfortable playing! Shame as we liked the K5, and it isn't an issue at the moment. I think we'll choose between the K3 and K6, and it is reassuring to know that both are good enough to get our sons to grade 8 and (hopefully) beyond. We will look at the Yamahas and anything upright within that price range that is recommended (to £7k maximum, though this is a stretch).

Also good point about the basement. The kitchen is in the front of it and the piano is at the back - it's fully part of the house (lower ground floor) and is dry and neighbour-friendly! All the same, does it sound wise to put a better-quality piano down there?

Many thanks again - all advice much appreciated.

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by Colin Nicholson » 14 Apr 2012, 17:23

You could always get slightly bigger castors and sit them in castor cups, if and when your kids turn into the Hulk! - much cheaper than buying a custom-made piano.

Mmmmm.. depends on cooking/ steam/ temperatures & humidity really. Best to buy a hygrometer first, and take some readings. Humidity should be about 55% (no less than 40% - and no more than 70%) - temp around the 18-20 C mark. Reasonable priced on Amazon - best to get a digital one.

If its salads though - should be fine.... !

IF there was any damp issues on the readings, you can have fitted a piano heater (small 25 watt tube giving off little heat) - called a 'Dampp chaser' - ask the shop or your piano tuner if needed.



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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by michaelc » 14 Apr 2012, 23:09

Colin - thank you again for the helpful advice! I have ordered a hygrometer from Amazon to check our humidity levels, just in case. Another issue that I didn't think about is that we have low-level underfloor heating in the basement - this may help any damp, but will it adversely affect the piano? The small Spencer piano we currently have in the basement is on an area of floor that doesn't have underfloor heating, but a larger piano (we're veering towards the K6) would have to sit on the (gently - 19deg C) heated floor, albeit on its castors. Should we buy the neighbours a case or two of wine and move the piano upstairs?!

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by rgreig » 15 Apr 2012, 13:28

So the K5 was modified/custom built to have a lower keyboard? I don't think I have ever played a piano that was modified in such a way. Seems very odd.

Robert

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by Colin Nicholson » 15 Apr 2012, 14:16

The general rule is to keep pianos away from the following:-

1. Damp & cold areas exceeding 70% + over 22C
2. Direct heat from central heating radiators/ underfloor heating
3. Direct sunlight / high temperatures

I cant comment on the exact location for your piano - sorry, I would need to inspect the kitchen/ dining area etc, and compare it with other areas. Its like asking 'how damp' my left side wall is in my living room. You probably need to use your discretion here, and obviously not place the piano directly above a heat source, otherwise you risk damaging the piano, and it going very quickly out of tune. If the wrest plank gets damaged or cracks - the piano can't be tuned any more, and it becomes scrap. I've seen so many new pianos with loose tuning pins because the heat is turned up. The piano should be in a cool room - about 16-18C and a humidity of around 55%.

If you are considering spending this much on a piano, then (if it was my piano) - I would make sure the piano received the preferential treatment over anything else. Also, would the piano not be distracting to practise on in a kitchen?

I would contact your shop and ask someone to visit you before you have the piano delivered.
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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by michaelc » 15 Apr 2012, 18:02

Again thank you Colin - I really appreciate the advice of an expert, and am so glad I posted here! We will have a very careful think about the location of our new piano. The kitchen piano has worked well in the past as the boys love being where all the action is and having an audience, so they play lots - maybe they'd prefer more peace as they grow up. I'm not sure the K6 will sit well in a kitchen, however (!), and there are obvious issues with heat and humidity. It is very good to know about them.

Thank you again, and best wishes

Catherine

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by michaelc » 15 Apr 2012, 18:08

Robert - according to our dealer, the K5 was designed with the Japanese market in mind, and therefore isn't so suitable for taller people! Not at all sure whether this is the case, but my tall-ish husband certainly found it cramped to sit at. Not sure either why this doesn't apply to the K3 and K6.

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by rgreig » 15 Apr 2012, 20:31

Perhaps someone who is a Kawai dealer can comment further but I really think that the suggestion that the K5 was designed for the Japanese market (in terms of size) is just complete rubbish. It's a 125cm piano versus the 132cm of the K6 - which will affect the sound but not whether tall people can play it comfortably!

One thing to consider is the size of the room the piano is going in, and the flooring. A 132cm piano in a relatively small room with a wooden (or tile) floor will have a big sound (it may even be a bit overpowering). This may not be obvious if the dealer has a large showroom. What size is your current piano?

At this kind of budget I would definitely try to play quite a few different models as listed in earlier posts. You may also find a dealer wanting to move on a particular model and therefore get a good deal. Your children are clearly talented given the standard they have reached for their ages but it isn't surprising they don't have strong opinions on tone/touch yet. A new piano now with a good action will be a tremendous advantage for them.

One make that was discussed in the context of grands in another thread is Hoffman, getting positive recommendations. I don't know where you live but if possible it would be good to find one to play since it will have a different sound from the Kawai. I think they should be roughly in budget.

Robert

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by Withindale » 15 Apr 2012, 21:35

Robert

You make an interesting point about the size of the room and height of the piano. I have a 140 cm upright in a 10' 8" x 6' 6" room with a tile floor. It is not overpowering though I do not play it as loudly as possible.

The main reason I'd be interested in a new Kawai is its Millenium action.

At our local piano emporium recently, I compared a couple of second hand U3s with a barely used 35 year old Knight. It would have been hard to justify paying 75% more for one the Yamahas. In other words, as you imply, it's worth looking beyond dealers who think boys will grow out of pianos like trousers.

Ian

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by rgreig » 15 Apr 2012, 21:54

Ian,

140cm is large - I was not aware of many uprights taller than 132cm with the exception of Steingraeber. It must have an excellent bass.

Robert

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by Withindale » 15 Apr 2012, 23:51

Robert

The new Blüthner Model S Professional Concert Upright at 145 cm goes a step beyond the Steingraeber. One for the boys to go for when they have got their grades and made their fortunes. http://www.bluthnerpiano.com/bms.html.

Yes, the 1925 Schiedmayer has a good bass and a fine tone even with its original strings.

Ian

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by rgreig » 16 Apr 2012, 08:44

Ian,

Very interesting! Has anyone played the Bluthner model S? How does it compare with the model B?

Robert

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Re: Kawai pianos - advice appreciated

Post by michaelc » 16 Apr 2012, 14:41

Robert - thank you for the very good points about the size of the room and the flooring - our current piano is a tiny and very basic Spencer which is wedged into an alcove in the back of our tiled kitchen. It's quite loud enough, though! I think we are veering towards a K6 or similar, and putting it in pride of place upstairs (also a narrow room, though, with wooden floors and rugs). The question is also where to get it from...

Ian - the Bluthner model S is quite a beast! As you say, one for when the boys have made their fortunes. However we will look at other pianos along with the K6, and points about the Hoffmanns and Yamahas are noted. You're right that the boys don't yet have strong opinions on tone or touch, and unfortunately we're not expert enough to help them, although we're aware that our current piano has very little in the way of subtlety.

Many thanks again!

Catherine

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